London, Oct. 21 (ANI): Students from poorer backgrounds are failing to get admission in UK universities such as Oxford and Cambridge because of the poor quality of teaching in state schools, a leading scientist has warned.
Lord Rees, the Astronomer Royal and a Cambridge professor, said that the middle-class dominance at many top institutions led to half of pupils not receiving the quality of teaching needed to qualify for the most competitive courses.
Rees also blamed teachers for discouraging their pupils from 'aiming high enough'.
According to the Telegraph, his comments will reignite the debate about fair access by blaming continuing inequality on failing schools rather than university admission tutors.
"Higher education is a driver of social mobility, but this will be inhibited until high-quality teaching at school is available across the full geographical and social spectrum," Rees said, who recently stepped down as master of Trinity College, Cambridge.
"In the meantime, the most distinguished academic institutions could widen access by admitting able students who have earned their spurs in less competitive institutions - indeed we should strive for greater mobility and flexibility," he added.
He said that in California, many of those who attend elite colleges such as Berkeley and UCLA have come via a lower-tier institution.
Last week, Alan Milburn, the Government's social mobility chief and former Labour minister, heaped more pressure on universities to recruit pupils from poorer backgrounds, the report said.
According to the report, his study, called How Higher Education Can Advance Social Mobility, recommended that all institutions use 'contextual data', taking into account a student's background, when deciding who to accept, and that bright pupils from poorer backgrounds be considered for admission.
It said the millions spent on bursaries and fee waivers for poorer students should be switched to financial grants to help ensure those pupils stayed on at school, it added. (ANI)